Sunday 7 February 2016

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Mega Drive / Genesis review)

Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1994

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a platform game that was released a couple of years after the Mega Drive sequel.

The levels are 3x the size of previous games and new power-ups include the Flame (fly through the air as a fireball), Water (bounce like a ball and breathe underwater) and Lightning (attract rings and double jump). Angel Island continues the opening tropical setting but it's quickly set on fire! Hydrocity proves that underwater levels don't have to be dull and there's an intense section where you're chased by a closing wall. Marble Garden is insane with multiple steep drops off cliffs and ground that decays and morphs around you. Carnival Night is like the twisted step-child of Casino Night Zone with its pinball bumpers and roulette wheels you can use to reach higher platforms. Ice Cap sees you riding a snowboard down slopes and using ice blocks to cross spike-filled gaps. Finally, Launch Base has you avoiding laser beams and disabling security barriers. All are inspired and exploring them is crazy amounts of fun. Unlike Sonic CD (1993, Mega CD) they're filled with innovation and the new power-ups open lots of gameplay possibilities. You can save your game in six slots but overall the action is a tad too easy, especially the bosses. The music is great though with lots of funky, up-tempo tracks. The Special Stages take place in a 3D rotating planet where you collect blue spheres and avoid red ones; while not as ground-breaking as the half-pipe in Sonic 2 they're fun and test your reflexes. The split-screen Competition mode is back where you race to the finish line in the quickest time over five laps. There's five exclusive stages but each lap literally takes seconds to finish so the action is short-lived.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 takes the series to new heights with its excellent gameplay, useful power-ups and heavy focus on storytelling. The developers keep you guessing at every turn which makes it an enjoyable, wild ride that lives up to the series' lofty expectations.
Random trivia: It's recently been confirmed that Michael Jackson composed a few songs in the game.

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